Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Just Let Em' Watch TV!

"Just Let Em' Watch TV!"

Jonathan McKee, and

My friend Jonathan McKee has an excellent ministry for youth leaders and parents.  Check out his site and blog listed above.  This blog by Jonathan on "Parents Watching Their Kids Lose Their Innocence" should be read by all parents.  
Al Menconi,

This past weekend on my flight coming back from speaking in Nebraska two elementary-aged kids sat next to me. Their mom sat a couple rows behind and her kids ended up by me-- a boy and girl, probably 3rd and 5th grade.

I introduced myself and j tables oked a little about the drawings on the emergency card. They laughed and I asked them questions about flying, “Have you ever flown before?” “Do you like flying?” I wanted them to feel comfortable with me for the flight. After the takeoff, I helped them order their drinks and work the tray. They were really polite, sweet little kids.

Soon the little girl pulled down her seat tray, removed a stuffed monkey from her bag and placed him up on the tray, sitting comfortably with his legs crossed and staring back at her with his shiny black little eyes. The boy pulled out a toy dragon and placed it with care on his tray table.

I remember thinking, “How young. How innocent.”

About 30 minutes into the flight, they slid their backpacks from under the seat in front of them and pulled out some magazines. The little boy had a MADMagazine, the little girl had the newest tween magazine, littered with pictures of Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Robert Pattinson and other teen idols.

It was heartbreaking watching this little girl, probably just 8-years-old, looking in awe at pictures of Miley and Kristen, reading little “did you know” facts about their celeb lifestyles. It was upsetting because I saw the innocence slowly being sucked away. Here’s a sweet little kid who probably just learned how to ride her bike. Her favorite companion is a stuffed monkey. And what does our society want to do with these little girls? Grow them up much too fast!
Here little girl… look at this celeb named Miley. Or this one namedBritney. Sorry, we can’t show you pics of Lindsey right now… she’s fresh out of rehab and back in jail.
Which 'Twilight' guy do you like better? Robert or Taylor? Here they are with their shirts off. Aren't they dreamy? Here’s a rapper singing with Justin Beiber. Oooops, don’t download any of this rapper's music-- it’s explicit.
I felt like covering the monkey’s eyes. I’ll protect you Baboo!

After the kids tired of the magazines, they started playing with their toys. It was adorable. “Hey, let’s say that Baboo rides your dragon!” The kids made their toys fly, wrestle each other (the dragon seemed to always prevail against the monkey), and romp off to an assortment of imaginary worlds.

All of a sudden their mother came up to check on them. “Hey, use the earphones and listen to the music or watch the TV show.”

The kids stared back at their mother like, Do we have to?

Mom dug the headphones out of their seat pocket and showed them how to put them on. “Here, watch this show.”

I looked up to see what United was playing for “family” enjoyment. An episode of Two and a Half Men (I kid you not).

The kids reluctantly put on their headphones and stared up at the screen while their mother returned to her seat. After two minutes the kids grew restless. The boy leaned over to his sister, “Let’s play some more.”

The headphones disappeared, Charlie Sheen’s sex jokes were silenced, and within seconds Baboo and the dragon were back to wrestling once again.

If only we could freeze this moment of innocence.

Unfortunately, in just a blink of an eye, middle school will arrive, the monkey and the dragon will probably be shelved, and the iPods of these two cherubs will be full of that day’s Katy PerryChristina Aguillera and Miley Cyrus. Mom won’t have to encourage TV watching anymore; TV will trump building forts, riding bikes and playing with toys. ABC and MTV will become their teachers, innocence will be totally lost… all under the watch of well-meaning parents.
But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.'  (Ezekiel 33:6) 
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kids and Online Pornography

Kids and Online Pornography 
Charles Colson, July 19, 2010

Everywhere you turn, someone is warning Americans about the dangers of childhood obesity. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver toured the country preaching the gospel of healthier school lunches. The first lady has made fighting childhood obesity her top priority.

While I'm all for healthier eating and exercise, I can't help but think, however, that in our concern over our kids' waistlines, we have overlooked a far bigger threat—the one to their souls.

The threat I'm referring to is pornography. In the latest issue of First Things, Mary Eberstadt of the Hoover Institution writes about the impact of the "widespread gorging on pornographic imagery"—what she calls "sexual obesity." "Sexual obesity," Eberstadt tells us, is "deleterious and unhealthy," yet it elicits "nowhere near" the "universal public concern" as the physical kind.

It should. Consuming all that smut, she writes, is "far more likely to make [our kids'] future lives miserable than carrying those extra pounds ever will."

And even kids who don't download pornography are exposed to it through its "incursions into popular media": video games, popular music, television and even their cell phones!

This increased exposure is correlated with a host of ills, some of them literally ills: teenagers who use pornography are more likely to test positive for chlamydia.

Even worse than what pornography does to our bodies is what it does to our minds. There is evidence that pornography robs frequent users of "the ability to relate to or be close to women." As philosopher Roger Scruton put it, porn users "risk the loss of love, in a world where only love brings happiness."

Given what we know about the damage caused by "sexual obesity," why ignore it while obsessing over school lunches? Why are people who scrutinize nutrition labels and flee trans-fats like the plague clueless about what their kids are watching and how it shapes their character?

Part of the answer is that our media-driven culture is literally superficial. We are obsessed with outward appearances, not virtue.

Then there's the way our culture equates sexual license with freedom.

This isn't new. Since the Enlightenment, sexual license has been the preferred way to express western man's emancipation from the Christian moral order. As the atheist philosopher Voltaire flippantly put it, "God created sex. Priests created marriage."

The tragic belief that "sexual license equals freedom" is why proposals to require that pornographic websites end in ".XXX" are regarded as the slippery slope to tyranny. It's why Apple's attempt to remove "overtly sexual content" from its iPhone app store prompted talk of a boycott.

Since our culture isn't willing to take measures against sexual obesity, Christians need to be especially mindful of what their kids are consuming online.

Just as you wouldn't feed your children deep-fried Twinkies for dinner, you shouldn't give them unlimited and unfiltered access to the internet. A little diligence can make a big difference—the kind of difference you won't get from reading a nutrition label.

Al Menconi Ministries purpose is to help parents understand the influence the entertainment media has on our families, show parents to connect with their children, and then encourage parents to communicate biblical values to their children.  We have books and resources on our website to help you.  

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Monitoring Teenage Cellphones and Facebook

In her column for the New York Times, Tara Parker-Pope has some excellent advice for parents on monitoring phones and Facebook.  I know many of my readers don't trust the Times, but I believe Parker-Pope has tremendous insight and suggestions in this area.  Let me know what you think.                                                             Al Menconi, editor Monitoring Teenage Cellphones and FacebookBy TARA PARKER-POPE JULY 2, 2010, 7:13 PM
Last week readers submitted numerous questions about cyberbullying to our expert, Elizabeth K. Englander, a professor of psychology and the founder and director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State College, which provides antibullying and antiviolence training programs and resources to schools and families. In the coming week, we’ll offer more answers to selected questions about bullying.
How can I best prepare my middle school daughter and myself for the possibility of cyberbullying in the coming years? I am wondering what the advice would be on when children should be allowed use of cellphones or access to social networking sites, since it seems to the norm for social interaction these days. — K.M.
It’s a great idea to think about cyberbullying before it happens. During these discussions, what should you say? Ask your children about cyberbullying. Ask them what they’ve heard about it and if they know anything about it or any kids it has happened to.
Tell them what you know and discuss with them what the family rules should be about cyber-related behaviors. Ask them how they might avoid cyberbullying and, if it does happen, how they should react. Our Web site, at, has free guides that can help you with this discussion with your children.
One more point I feel compelled to bring up. By my calculation, your daughter is probably 11 years old. You may not be aware of this, but the minimum age for a Facebook profile and account is 14. Although I’m fully aware that some children falsify their ages to get onto Facebook, I do think that permitting children to give a fake age emphasizes to them that they needn’t bother following all the rules. That’s an approach that may, in the long run, backfire upon well-meaning parents who themselves need to put rules in place.
My own approach with my children is to tell them that they may not have a Facebook account until they are following all the rules, including not lying about their age. (It’s often argued back to them that children will simply set up an account on the sly, and this may happen. But I think that doing something on the sly, against your parents’ rules, feels very different then openly breaking the rules with your parents’ consent. And, ultimately, which values do you want them to learn?)
When should children be allowed the use of cellphones or access to social networking sites? I see the need to educate children (and probably adults, too,) on the proper way to conduct themselves in a virtual environment, but should schools have that responsibility to regulate the environment? — P.M.
It is important to note that there’s a difference between carrying a cellphone to enable phone calls to Mom and Dad, and carrying what is in reality a miniature computer — a device that can surf the Web, post on Web sites and send and receive text messages and photos freely. Many parents monitor what their children do online yet turn around and give their child an Internet-enabled cellphone with absolutely no education, guidance, rules or monitoring whatsoever. We tend to think of these devices as “telephones” — used to make voice calls — but our research has shown that more than half of teenagers use these devices to make voice calls only 20 percent of the time or less.
In answer to the question about whether children should be allowed to have access to cellphones: the best route is probably to have lots of discussion and education. Talk with your kids about what kinds of cyberbullying they may have witnessed between cellphone users, and how they might personally avoid or respond to such problems. Assure your child that you know about the problems that can arise with cellphones and that you absolutely expect your child to respect others online — including their cellphone use.
Cellphones, paid for by Mom and Dad, are a privilege, not a right. Because all of our kids will have to use electronic devices throughout their lives, education, experience and talking about these problems is probably the only long-term solution to electronic misbehavior.
To learn more about schools and cyberbullying, read “Online Bullies Pull Schools Into the Fray.” And check back next week for more answers from Dr. Englander.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Television and Video Games Lead to Attention Problems in Children.

Here is yet another research that validates parents concerns about TV and video games.  The American Academy of Pediatrics concluded in their research published July 8, 2010 in their official Journal that the more exposure to TV and video games will lead to an increase in attention problems in children.
The following is a very brief synopsis of their conclusions.  To read their complete report.

WHAT’S KNOWN ON THIS SUBJECT: Television exposure is associated with attention problems in children.

WHAT THIS STUDY ADDS: The association of video games and attention problems is similar to the association of television and attention problems. These associations appear in middle childhood and late adolescence/early adulthood.

OBJECTIVES: Television viewing has been associated with greater sub- sequent attention problems in children. Few studies have examined the possibility of a similar association between video games and attention problems, and none of these has used a longitudinal design.

METHODS: A sample of 1323 middle childhood participants were assessed during a 13-month period by parent and child-reported television and video game exposure as well as teacher-reported attention problems. Another sample of 210 late adolescent/early adult participants provided self-reports of television exposure, video game exposure, and attention problems.

RESULTS: Exposure to television and video games was associated with greater attention problems. The association of television and video games to attention problems in the middle childhood sample remained significant when earlier attention problems and gender were statistically controlled. The associations of screen media and attention problems were similar across media type (television or video games) and age (middle childhood or late adolescent/early adult).

CONCLUSIONS: Viewing television and playing video games each are associated with increased subsequent attention problems in childhood. It seems that a similar association among television, video games, and attention problems exists in late adolescence and early adulthood. Research on potential risk factors for attention problems should be expanded to include video games in addition to television. Pediatrics 2010;126:214–221

To read their complete report.  

For books and resources to help you connect and communicate values to your kids check out our website at:

Al Menconi Ministries Facebook Page
Parenting help for the Internet age
Christian Parenting advice
Entertainment advice for parents
Keeping Kids Safe In the digital age
Keeping Kids Safe in the Internet age

Friday, July 2, 2010

10 Facts You Should Know About Online Pornography

Is pornography overwhelming our society?  After reading the list of important facts about online pornography below, I believe you will agree with me that it is a problem that needs to be confronted.  If you know someone who is struggling with this issue, I suggest getting help from  I trust their information and resources. 
You may want to visit our website at to help you understand, connect, and communicate values to your children.  We have many resources including books and seminars on DVD.  Wayne Rice, of Understanding your Teen and Youth Specialties has said our book, RECONNECT, " some of the best parenting advice I've ever read."

In His service and yours,
Al Menconi

10 Facts you Should Know About Online Pornography
research by

1.  12% of all sites on the Internet are pornographic.  The total is 24, 644, 172 porn sites. 

2.  Every second there are 28, 258 Internet users viewing porn.  Every second $3, 075.64 is being spent on pornography. 

3.  40 million Americans are regular visitors to porn sites.

4.  One third of porn users are women.  70% of men aged 18-24 visit porn sites in a typical month. 

5.  Two and a half billion emails a day are pornographic.  That’s 8% of all emails.

6.  25% of all search engine requests are pornography.

7.  34% of all internet users have experienced unwanted exposure to porn either through pop up ads, misdirected links or emails. 

8.  The average age at which a child first sees porn online is 11.

9.  20% of men and 13% of women admit to watching porn online at work.

10.  The average porn site visit is 6 minutes and 29 seconds.  

Al Menconi Ministries

Check out our resources at:

Al Menconi Ministries Facebook Page
Parenting help for the Internet age
Christian Parenting advice
Entertainment advice for parents
Keeping Kids Safe In the digital age
Keeping Kids Safe in the Internet age